I hated my boss so much that I ended up hating my job, the company I was working for, and even myself for putting up with it.
During my career, I have learned a lot about leadership from my experiences of running my own business, leading large projects and managing global departments. But, I learned the most about leadership from the worst boss I ever had.
It’s not until you have a bad boss that you understand the negative impact that bad bosses can have on customers, the company and the morale of the team. Bad bosses kill passion, creativity, and productivity.
I hated my boss so much that I ended up hating my job, hating the company I was working for and even hating myself for putting up with it. I was so stressed out that I couldn’t sleep, I became short tempered and pretty much made everyone around me miserable.
Even when I changed jobs, it took a good six months before I was myself again, such was the negative impact my bad boss had had on. The only good thing to come out of the whole experience was that he taught me how NOT to lead. Here are ten tips I learned that helped me lead better.
1. Put the team first.
Bad bosses make it all about them, they become the center of the universe, everything revolves the boss, and they are the only one’s that matter.
In reality, it’s the team that does 95% of work, and as a leader, it’s our job to put the team in the best position to succeed. Put the team first, give them everything they need to be successful, let everything revolve around them and they will respond much more positively.
2. Look for the good in every situation.
Bad bosses are nitpickers, constantly looking for the negatives, any mistakes that they can highlight, and as no one is perfect, there is always something to complain about. When we constantly complain, we create a poisonous atmosphere, one that just sucks the enjoyment out of the work, and unhappy people are unproductive people.
When we look for the good, and there is always good in every situation, we raise morale, and we encourage people. Mistakes are part of the learning process, and we must be supportive.
3. Be fair in the treatment of others.
Favoritism can be a killer, especially when it’s ill-founded, and bad bosses are promoting, praising or rewarding their friends and cronies unjustly. Take a fair approach, treat everyone the same, play no favorites. People are not blind they see what’s going, and you will generate much more respect when you hold everyone to the same standards.
4. Listen with your ears, not your mouth.
My boss would never listen. Whenever we tried to explain anything he didn’t want to hear it. He would just shout “excuses, excuses, excuses” he had no interest in anything we had to say, which was extremely frustrating.
My grandma always said, “we have two ears and one mouth, and that’s the ratio we should use them.” The same applies to leaders, too. Listen to your teams, you don’t have to agree with them, or accept everything they tell you, but, at least, show them the courtesy of listening to them. When we listen, it increases respect.
5. We don’t know everything.
Just because you’re the boss, it doesn’t mean you know everything. The collective IQ of the team is always higher than that of the boss. Give the team the chance to be involved in defining solutions, identifying options, we still get to choose which option which option we go with it doesn’t diminish our control. When we increase involvement we increase commitment, and when we increase commitment results improve.
6. Praise publicly, criticize privately.
I remember the day my boss balled me out in front of the team. He accused me of not having come up with a plan for the work we were doing. In fact, I had done a plan, it was in his inbox, he just hadn’t read it yet. Even worse, the whole team knew it as they had helped me create it.
He lost all trust that day with the rest of the team, firstly because most people know you praise in public and criticize in private, but also they knew the criticism was unfounded. It was clear he was just looking for an excuse to criticize and the impact of that was that people stopped to volunteer for anything and tried to keep out of his way. Always praise in public and criticize in private, as you never know when your criticism is unfounded.
7. Share credit.
My bad boss used to take all of the credit for everything that went well, everything that went bad was because of the team. With an attitude like that, it’s not long before everything starts to go bad.
When you share the credit with the team and let’s face it, they do do 95% of the work; it’s not long before more things start to go well. Teams work hard for bosses that give them credit for a job well done.
8. Trust your team.
Every time my boss gave out work, he was always sarcastic, saying thing like, “I doubt you guys are going to be able to complete this but let’s give it a shot anyway.”
When you talk like that, you set an expectation that you think the team is going to fail. You make failure acceptable, and more often than not, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you trust your team and have faith in them, you set an expectation that they will be successful. This boosts confidence and confidence is a crucial contributor to success. It costs nothing to trust your team, and it can often be the difference between success and failure.
9. Be accountable.
When you don’t walk your talk, you cannot expect others to walk it. You cannot keep making and the breaking promises to your team, that just doesn’t work.
Leadership defines culture, if you want people to be accountable, then you have to be accountable if you want them to keep their promises then you have to keep yours. Be accountable and walk the talk!
10. Ask don’t demand.
Finally, we all know you’re the boss, we got the memo, we’ve seen the title engraved on your door. You do not need to demand and order people about, we get it, you’re in charge.
When you ask people, even though people know you’re in charge, it gives the people the feeling of working with you, not for you. When people feel they are working with you, it changes the whole dynamic they become more involved and committed.
Leadership is all about people and our relationship with them, the better we treat them, the better our results will be. And remember good leadership isn’t just reserved for work, these tips will help improve any relationship.
Photo: Flickr/ Le Tchétché